Sport | England

Kiwi Ferns open world cup campaign with big win over France

Photo credit: Getty Images. 

Another leg of the Rugby League World Cup is underway. This time, the Kiwi Ferns opened their campaign for a fourth world title with a thrashing.

Their first match saw them convincingly beat France, 46-0, in York, England this morning NZ time, in a nine-try score fest, with Roxy Murdoch-Masila scoring two tries in the hard-fought battle.

Katelyn Vaha'akolo (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Maniapoto, Tonga) would have notched her first try in the third minute had she not dropped the ball. She made up for it, though, to match Murdoch-Masila's double tries in the second half.

The French defence was hard to get through from the get-go. But the patience from the Ferns paid off when Ngāti Porou player Madison Bartlett got the first four points in the 23rd minute on the left wing.

By half-time, it was already 26-0, and the second half would see Vaha'akolo get her try-double during her full 80 minutes of playtime.

Apii Nicholls, Page McGregor, Shanice Parker and Amber Hall were part of the nine-try bonanza. Nicholls also slotted two points between the post and ran the most metres for her team (209). Parker had, perhaps, the star play of the match running 95 metres in her debut for her try near the end of the game.

The Ferns are tied in points with rivals Australian Jillaroos as part of Group B. They, too, won with a ferocious start to their World Cup title defence defeating the Cook Islands 74-0 - totalling 14 tries. The points difference between the two means the Jillaroos are top of Group B - for now.

The Cook Islands will be facing the Black Ferns next on Monday morning [NZ time]. And it won't be much downtime either when the Jillaroos and Ferns finally clash next Friday [NZ time].

The Kiwis will be in quarter-final action before on Sunday morning when the Group C leaders take on Fiji.

Tomorrow, the last section of the world cup will open with the wheelchair teams facing off - the first time that the women's, men's and wheelchair teams have been included in a world cup tournament.